London, April 2022: Thursday the 14th

Thursday turned out to be a very sunny and warm day in London, and I decided to have breakfast at O’Neill’s King’s Cross. The main reason for heading here, was because it was close to the hotel. Though the pub claims to be “The original Irish Bar in Kings Cross”, it came across as an American Irish pub rather than a proper Irish one to me. The only vegan option on the menu was the Plant Life Breakfast (toasted muffin with vegan sausages, spinach hash, guacamole, flat mushroom, Heinz® baked beans and cherry tomatoes), so that’s what I went for, along with some sparkling soda water on tap (basically free fizzy water). They didn’t have any plant milks, so for me tea or coffee were out of the question (I’ll drink my coffee black at a place with good coffee, but not at a place like this).

When the breakfast arrived, I was a bit disappointed, but not really surprised. The spinach was dry, the mushrooms were dry, the bap wasn’t great, and the whole thing was rather sad. Fortunately, it did its job, and filled me up, so that I was ready to meet the day. I would not recommend this as a breakfast place, though, there are far better places to eat, and thinking back, I kind of wish I’d gone to a supermarket and just bought a sandwich and a bottle of sparkling water there.

A plate with vegan sausages, half of a bap with mushed avocado, half a bap with cherry tomatoes, hash browns, spinach, baked beans, and mushrooms. A glass with fizzy water behind it, and an e-reader with an open page to the right.
Plant Life Breakfast @ O’Neill’s
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

After breakfast, I decided to go back to the hotel. On my way I stopped by one of the many food stalls outside King’s Cross station: Crosstown. Crosstown makes handcrafted fresh doughnuts, and you can get vegan doughnuts from them all over London. I bought the Vegan Coconut & Lime doughnut, and it was really really nice! I brought the doughnut back to my hotel room, and enjoyed it there, in peace and quiet.

A food stall with wooden food displays with glass doors. On the front "Crosstown" is written.
Crosstown London, at King’s Cross station
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

Relaxing in my room with a nice tread did wonders, and I decided to take the tube to Tower Hill. This meant that I arrived at the Tower of London, where I started my walk. I then walked along the River Thames, and passed a few bridges, Tower Bridge being one of them. When I first visited London in 1988 (the year I turned 14), I remember staying at a hotel where we could see Tower Bridge from our hotel room.

As it was a very sunny day, I wasn’t the only one out for a walk. Not only were there lots of people walking along the river, but the benches along the foot path were filled with people relaxing and smiling. Every time you passed by a pub or an outdoor restaurant, they were filled with people. I’m certain the lovely weather and the fact that the next day was a bank holiday were the reasons everywhere were filled with happy people.

A caste of bricks with towers.
Tower of London
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

A caste of bricks, with towers.
Towers of London
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

A river with a large bridge with towers on each side.
Tower Bridge
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

There was one thing I wanted to do before going to the bookcrossing meetup I was going to attend at 4 pm: I wanted to visit Daunt Books. I have visited Daunt Books previously, but it’s always worth a visit if you love books and have the time. I think it’s one of the most beautiful bookshops in the world! I didn’t buy anything, but just being there, browsing the shelves, was nice. They have a really good non-fiction selection, for being such a small bookshop. Because it really isn’t all that big, once you get into it.

A bookshop entrance, with "Daunt Books" on the sign over the door.
Daunt Books
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

A room with walls covered with books. At the end of the room is a window with painted glass art. Flowerlike green lamps are hanging from the ceiling. There are also tables filled with books in the room.
Daunt Books
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

On my way to Allsop Arms, where I was supposed to meet up with the bookcrossers, I pretty much stumbled over a small coffee shop called Hagen. Hagen is a Danish espresso bar concept born out of Copenhagen and founded in London. They serve specialty coffee, and to my delight their pour over was absolutely top notch! As far as I can tell from their homepage, they have five branches across London. A perfect place for a break, if you have the time and need a nice cup of coffee.

A marble counter with a carafe and a glass of coffee. To the left behind the counter you can see coffee grinders, espresso machines, and other coffee making equipment. You can also see two baristas working.
At Hagen Espresso Bar
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

Ha hand holding a carafe of coffee, pouring it into a glass.
Coffee at Hagen Espresso Bar
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

At the bookcrossing meetup, we ended up being a total of three people. I think it probably was because a lot of people left the city due to Easter. It ended up being a really nice meetup, though, and it was lovely to see people I hadn’t seen in real life in a few years. I think last time I met Poodlesister was at the convention in Oxford in 2015.

It was pretty much dinner time for me, so I had pie and chips, and I also had a couple of ciders in the pub. One of the ciders I’d had before, the other one not. It’s always fun to try new beers and ciders, especially if I’m in the UK. Though I do with the IPA trend would soon be over!

A table with books spread across it. On the table there's also a glass of red cider.
Bookcrossing meetup at Allsop Arms
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

After the meetup I went back to the hotel, where I had a lovely bath. Having a bath tub in the hotel room always feels like luxury, and I try to use it if I can. It was so nice and relaxing, having a bath and reading. I decided to stay in the hotel room for the rest of the evening, and was honestly pretty exhausted. It was nice to creep under the duvet after a long, but nice, day.

London, April 2022: Wednesday the 13th

When I woke up Wednesday morning, I was pleased I had managed to sleep a bit longer. I knew I wanted a proper breakfast, though, and headed to one of my favourite cafés in London. Mildreds used to be a vegetarian café, but since I was there last time three years ago, it has turned all plant based. I originally wanted to have scrambled tofu, but it turned out it contained lots of bell peppers, which make me ill. Instead I went for the sausage bap, with tomato chilli chutney, and a pot of tea. It tasted really good!

In the front a plate with a bap with sausages and a pot of red chili chutney. Behind it is a mug og tea, as well as a pot of tea.
Sausage bap for breakfast at Midreds
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

After being fed, I wanted some coffee. I went back to Origins, as it was close to Mildreds (and the hotel), to relax with my book.

An ereader with a page open to the left, to the right a cup of coffee. A carafe of coffee behind the mug.
Coffee at Origins
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

I decided I wanted to go to Camden. There are always lots to look at there, it being shops, people, or just even street art.

A large green tree is on the shore of a river. Behind it brick buildings.
Camden Town
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

A street eith an enclosed bridge over it- The bridge says "Camden Lock". On each side of the street you can see brick buildings.
Camden Town
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

A building with on of its walls painted with a piece of street art. A black woman on a green brackround
Street Art in Camden Town
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

Walking around in Camden Town was pretty exhausting (I’m still struggling with tiredness after Covid), so I decided that relaxing in Green Park would be nice. Wednesday was the least sunny and warm day in London during my visit, but at least it didn’t rain. And the park was surprisingly quiet, even though there was lots of people there. Green Park was not far from the Dukes, so that was also a good reason to pick that park to spend some time before heading for afternoon tea.

A park with trees. Some has new, green leaves, some white flowers. The grass is green, with several daisies.
Green Park
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

A tree full of white flowers on green grass
Green Park
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

As I said in a previous post, I had booked at table at the Dukes. The hotel was in one of those small streets, hidden away from the city’s hustle and bustle. It felt rather posh, and I had to wait in the entrance hall to be seated. The Drawing Room, where the afternoon tea was to be had, was decorated with blue colours, and had a small winter garden in the middle. There were plenty of big windows, that let the sun in.

A brick building with iron cast entrance. A blue sign over the door saying "Dukes", and a flag hanging over it on a pole saying "Dukes London".
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

You can see into a sunlit room, with tables and comfortable chairs. The room is blue. On the wall inside the room you can see drawings. To the right of the arch leading into the room, a gold clock is hanging on the wall.
Drawing Room at the Dukes London
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

I had the vegan afternoon tea, and I went for a tea called Royal Flush. Like at many restaurants and cafés in London, I was asked about allergies, and due to the cinnamon and bell pepper allergies I have, my menu looked like this:

A Selection of Traditional Sandwiches:
Avocado hummus, pickled cucumber on beetroot bread
Vegan cheese, fig relish on white bread
Shredded cabbage, carrot & apple on granary bread
Grilled courgette, tomato tapenade on rye & onion bread

Pistachio & polenta cake
Beetroot and blackberry financier
Mango & cashew cheesecake

Raisin scones & plain scones served with strawberry preserve & vegan clotted cream

The tea was really good, but I was slightly disappointed by the food. You would think a place like the dukes would put more effort into their vegan afternoon tea, but I wasn’t impressed. A couple of the sandwiches were massively over salted, and out of the four, the vegan cheese and fig relish one was the absolute best. I didn’t care too much for the cakes, except for the pistachio & polenta cake, which was lovely. The mango and cashew cheesecake was OK, but in my opinion, it should have tasted more of mango. The scones, on the other had, were lovely, even though it felt as if I was snowed down with icing sugar when eating them.

A table with a pot of tea to the left. In the middle is a stand with sandiches, scones, and cakes. To the right there's a cup of tea. In fron there is a plate with a white napkin, a knife and fork at each side. To the left of the plate there's an e-reader, with a page open.
Vegan Afternoon Tea
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

After having had the afternoon tea, I headed to Waterstones Piccadilly, where I were to meet up with Olivia-Savannah from the YouTube channel Olivia’s Catastrophe. On my way there, I stopped by Hatchards Bookshop, where I just walked around. It’s a pretty nice bookshop, and I even found some books translated from the Norwegian to the English there. (I didn’t buy them, of course, I’d rather read them in Norwegian).

When I arrived at Waterstones Piccadilly, I felt really tired, and went up to the café on the top floor, where I had a glass of cider and read my book while waiting for Olivia-Savannah. I finished my cider after she arrived, and we headed to do a bit of book browsing. So many tempting books. And I didn’t buy a single one!

We went to Shoryu Ramen for dinner, and had some really good food. I hardly ever find good vegan ramen, so I was very pleased. I had such a lovely time, and it was great to talk about books, food, and other random things you talk about. Time just flew by, and all of a sudden it was time to head back to the hotel. I got back by far later than planned, but it wasabsolutely worth it!

A red bowl filled wit ramen: mushrooms, spring onions tofu, broccolini, ans sweet potato.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

A Black woman with braided, purple hair is sitting behind a table, smiling. On the table in front of her is a plate with chicken katsu curry and rice.
The lovely Olivia-Savannah
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

London, April 2022: Tuesday the 12th

Tuesday greeted me with sunshine! From experience, sunny April spring days with +19⁰C isn’t exactly common in London. And I must say, it was really pleasant.

Brick buildings bathed in sun.
Sunny hotel room view
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

A woman with purple hair sitting in the window. In the background you can see brick buildings.
Me at the hotel
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

My first stop was one of my favourite coffee shops in London, Origins. They serve high quality coffee, of a light roast. I had a pour over, i.e. made with a V60. Sitting inside, looking out the window and reading was really nice.

A book on a bench that is a table, the book to the left. To the right a carafle of coffee and a cup of coffee.
Coffee at Origins
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

After having had some coffee, I picked up a light breakfast at a grocery shop, that I had outside on a bench at Bloomsbury. It was nice and relaxing, and a nice way to get ready for some book shopping. The bookshops I was planning on visiting were all close by.

A street with flowering trees
Spring in London
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

The first bookshop to visit was Skoob Books, where I spent quite a bit of time. I love second hand books, and if you’re lucky you might find some really nice books. Not only did I end up buying two books that look pretty much brand new, but I also found some cheap postcards I’m planning on using for postcrossing. Score!

A sign with "Skoob" standing out from the wall.
Skoob Books
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

Next bookshop on my list was Gays the Word, an LGBTQ+ bookshop. It was quite small, and the selection was quite good, but they didn’t have the books I was looking for. I did end up buying some other books, though, as well as a couple of postcards.

A bookshop front, you can see books in the window. The sign above it has pink triangles pointing down, one at each side of the text.
Gays the World
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

I had just one more bookshop to browse before I wanted to head back to the hotel: Judd Books. This bookshop unfortunately came across as a bit chaotic to me. Also it was hard to navigate around, as there wasn’t much room for movement. I didn’t end up buying anything there, nor did I spend much time. When I left the shop, I headed back to the hotel for a rest.

A book shop front, with boxes of books outside. A couple of people can be seen browsing the boxes.
Judd Books
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

In the afternoon/evening I met up with @lovedreadingthis and @always_need_more_books, bookstagrammers I’ve been following for a long time on Instagram. It was really nice to meet them, and having a wonderful conversation of books and more. We had a meal at Art Yard Bar & Kitchen, which turned out to be more of a hotel restaurant than any of us expected, I think, but that’s OK. The vegan burger I had, though, wasn’t great. A bit bland and dense. The chips were lovely, though, so I kind of wish I just had chips.

A plate with a burger on a bun half, the other bun half beside it. Also a bowl of chips on it. Behind it are glasses of water.
Vegan burger at Art Yard Bar & Kitchen
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

After dinner I went back to the hotel. I was shattered tired, and just wanted to relax and get some blogging done. I stopped at Tesco on my way, though, and got some sweets and a strawberry beer that actually tasted OK. It was nice to have a quiet night, and very much needed. I think I pretty much passed out when my head hit the pillow.

London, April 2022: The journey there.

It’s really good to be in London again! The journey here went surprisingly smooth. Since my tickets are SAS plus, paid for with bonus points, I had access to fast track. No queueing at all.

When I arrived at the airport in Oslo, and had checked in, I headed to the lounge. I had plenty of time before my flight to Copenhagen, so I enjoyed some refrehments.

A table with a bowl of crisps, a glass of cola, a glass of apple juice, and a glass of white wine.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

The reason I flew via Copenhagen, rather than getting a direct fliggt, was that I got my flights on sale. SAS had a bonus point sale, and I was a tad bit late to the ball, so it was either flying via Copenhagen or getting up ungodly early. The choise was easy.

View from an airplane. You can see fields and woods unddr a scattered layer of clouds.
Goodbye, Norway!
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

Arriving in Copenhagen I started hunting for food. I wanted a warm meal. I ended up buying wokked tofu and vegetables with rice, which was supposed to have ginger. I with it had more ginger and less salt, but all in all ot was a totally OK meal.

A white bowl on a table. In the bowl there are rice, and wokked vegetables and tofu.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

In Copenhagen I had to go through passport control, and was surprised there was no queue at all. Since I expected it to take a long time, I ended up having plenty of time before my next flight. Fortunately we got to board early, and soon enough I was on my way.

Boarder control at Heathrow was busy, but that’s normal. I think it took maybe 30 minutes before I was out and able to pick up my bag.

Having picked up my bag, I headed to the underground station. I was happy to see my Oystercard was still working, and still containing money. I topped it up, though, just in case, and headed to King’s Cross where my hotel is.

I checked into to hotel, and had the choice of having a room in the ground floor or fourth floor. I definitively prefer it to be higher up, so fourth it was. The room was quite nice, and it didn’t take long before I was under the duvet sleeping.

Bookshops I’m planning on visiting in London

London is such a great place for book lovers. There are so many bookshops and other book related places to visit. Some I visit pretty much every time I’m there, like Waterstone’s Picadilly (which is huge!), some I’ve only visited a handful of times, while others remain to discover. Of course I’m planning on visiting a few this time around as well. There are some shops that aren’t around any longer, like Silver Moon, and that’s sad. Fortunately, there are still a bunch of good ones still around.

One bookshop I’ve been to a couple of times, is Daunt Books in Marylebone. It’s an independent book seller, and the address is 83-84 Marylebone High Street, London. It’s such a beautiful shop.

I love second hand bookshops, and one of my favourites in London is Skoob Books. Every time I’m there it feels like I’m in a treasure chamber. Books from floor to ceiling. Of course, visiting Skoob in a hurry, is a bad plan. You need enough time to browse the shelves, and take your time. If you do, you might fine something really cool. I once found an annotated edition of Alice in Wonderland. I’m always excited to visit! What will I stumble upon this time?

A collage with photos from outside and inside of Skoob Books.
Snapshots from Skoob Books.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022

A shop I can’t remember ever visiting is Gay’s the Word in 66 Marchmont Street. Which I find really odd. Not the shop, that is, but that I haven’t been there. I have a feeling I might be a tad bit poorer money wise after visiting them (but richer for books). I think they have both LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ books, though it’s the LGBTQ+ ones I’m more interested in, especially if they’re YA. On the same street (82 Marchmont Street) there’s a book shop called Judd Books, that looks really interesting. They have both new and used books. It would make sense to visit that as well.

Another bookshop I stumbled upon googling, was Bookmarks. They’re the largest socialist bookshop in Britain, and have books on politics, economics, trade unionism, labour history, the environment, black struggle, women, culture, fiction, and more. That sounds really interesting to me, and their address is 1 Bloomsbury Street. Also, they seem to have some cool merchandise that I might interested in getting my paws on.

Do you have some favourite bookshops in London? If you do, which ones?

I want to tell you about the car crash

In July 2008 I was in a car accident. Today it feels like something that happened a long time ago, and in many ways it is. In July it will be 14 years ago. The accident happened on Sunday 6 July 2008. I think it’s one of those things that one think about from time to time.

A friend and I had been to a wedding, and were on our way home. It had been raining heavily, and on our way home we had to drive through several tunnels. Right outside of Drammen, we drove through a tunnel, and suddenly the car windows fogged up. We quickly rolled down the side windows, but all of a sudden we could feel the car spinning. Another car had somehow gotten into our lane, probably due to the same problem, and crashed into my friend’s car. I remember someone asking me if I was OK, and I answered “No!” Next thing I remember is waking up, laying on the ground inside the tunnel, with people standing around me. Right then in that moment, I thought I had a nightmare, and tried to wake up…

I was so scared, but there were people by my side comforting me. Strangers, how showed nothing but kindness. My friend was also there. It didn’t take to long, though, before the ambulance arrived and we were brought to the hospital.

At the hospital I was surrounded by staff who did a lot of tests, and I was brought to do a CT scan. I had to wait outside the CT scan room, as someone else needed it more urgently. With me was a medicine student who was very sweet and really helped me feel safe. When it was my turn, I got an IV inserted contrast agent. It was really unpleasant!

Fortunately, I had no serve physical injuries, but I was in a lot of pain. It was a big relief when I got to go home in the evening, and could sleep in my own bed.

Something I’ve thought about later, is the fact there was never an offer of psychological help after the accident. Never a question if I needed to talk to someone. Even though I’m fine today, that might not have been the case.

If there’s something I’ve learnt from this, it’s that life is precious. You never know what tomorrow brings, and you should never let an opportunity pass just because you’re scared of what you don’t know. The future is uncertain, take chances! Follow your dreams, don’t let your fear stop you.

A golden coloured car, with a big chunk of the front ripped off.
The car after the accident.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2008

Places in London I want to check out!

The vegan scene in London has pretty much exploded. Even a few years back it was pretty good, but I know it has gotten even better. The last few times I’ve been to London, I’ve visited several places I’ve loved, but I know some of them are now sadly gone. That being said, I’m looking forward to check out some new places I haven’t tried before!

One of the places I want to try out is Copperhouse Chocolate, a 100% vegan chocolate café and artisan hot-chocolatier. They’re not open every day, so I will have to aim for a visit either Wednesday or Thursday, as I’m going home on Friday (as mentioned in my previous blog post).

A place that I’ve heard a lot about, but for some unknown reason never tried out, is Temple of Seitan. It was a big deal when they opened up their first shop back in 2015, and today they have a few branches in London. The food is mostly fast food/junk food, but that’s OK with me. It’s still on my list of places to eat, as long as I’m in the mood for that sort of food.

It’s no secret I love tofu and noodles. One place that has those exact things on the menu is Vegan Fusion, a predominantly Asian fusion vegan restaurant. I haven’t been able to find a webpage for them, which really is a pity, but they’re address is 71 Chapel Market.

Something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time, is to have afternoon tea in London. The Savoy has a long tradition of serving afternoon tea, and they’re now offering vegan afternoon tea, and I hope I’ll be able to book a table for afternoon tea there one day, but you’ll have to book well in advance. There were no openings when I’m in London, so I simply had to look for somewhere else. After some searching the Internet, I finally ended up booking a table at Dukes, which has a vegan afternoon tea menu. The afternoon tea is served in the Drawing Room at Dukes hotel, which is only a short walk from Waterstones Piccadilly, one of my favourite bookshops.

I’m sure I’ll not have any problems finding vegan food in London, there are plenty of places I’d love to go back to.

Icecream in a paper cup saying "Yorica! free lovin' treats".
I had vegan icecream at Yorica! on a previous trip to London.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2018

London, we finally meet again!

London has had a very special place in my heart ever since I first visited in 1988. It was the summer before I turned 14, and I remember how magical it felt like visiting. Since then I have been there so many times I lost count years ago. Actually, I used to visit several times every year.

Palace of Westminster seen from the other side of the river.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2008

Due to the time we’ve been through, I haven’t been there since 2019. I was supposed to go in May 2020, but we all know the world shut down shortly before that, and needless to say, the trip got cancelled.

I’m thrilled to know that I now have booked a trip, and am finally going to visit my beloved London again! I’m arriving fairly late on 11 April, and am leaving again on 15 April. That means four nights! It will be my first trip outside of Norway since my partner and I visited family in Ireland for Christmas in 2019.

I am super excited! Now I just need to make plans for things I want to do and places I want to eat at!

Have you ever been to London? Do you have any favourite things there?

Spring Is In the Air!

After almost three weeks inside with Covid-19, I went outside for the first time today. Last time I was outside it was still winter and February. Now we’re well into March, and spring has happened while I was couped up inside. I was only outside for a couple of small errands, so it wasn’t exactly an expedition.

The sun was shining, and I decided on getting a take-away coffee. It was so nice to feel the warm weather, enjoying the warm oat latte, and walk slowly home.

A hand holding a papercup of takeaway coffee outside. Brown grass in the background, after the snow has melted.
Photo: Mittens and Sunglasses © 2022